Group Formation and Development

24/04/2020 0 By indiafreenotes

By group development we mean the stages that work groups go through as they evolve and grow. Groups do not form and become effective overnight. It involves a long process to develop a group of strangers to a unit of cohesive and well coordinated group members. From the mid 1960’s it has been believed that groups pass through standard sequence of five stages.

These stages are forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning as illustrated below:

The Five Stage of Group Development

  1. Forming

The forming stage is when the group is just formed and members are formally placed together in a work group. At this stage, group members try to comprehend where they stand in the group and how they are being perceived by others in the group. The members are very cautious in their interactions with each other and the relationships among the group members are very superficial.

Any decisions made in the group are made by the more vocal members. Members seldom express their feelings in the group and the individual members who are trying to understand who are in the group have concerns about how they will fit in the group as a permanent group member.

  1. Storming

Sometime after the formal group is created, internal sub groups get developed. Due to the newness of the group, there are limited interactions initially among the members of the group. However, small groups of two or three members interact with each other and make an effort to get to know each other better. Thus, subgroups are formed. Once this sub grouping process takes place and members begin to feel somewhat more comfortable in the group, they try to establish their positions and test their powers in the bigger group.

At this stage, disagreements tend to get expressed among the group members and feelings of anxiety and resentment are also expressed. Some power struggle may ensure at this stage to determine who should assume the role of informal leader. This storming stage is also known as the sub-grouping and confrontation stage.

  1. Norming

Norming is the next stage where the disagreements, differences and power issues which were dominant at the storming stage gets worked out. The group sets norms, tries to attain some degree of cohesiveness, understands the goals of the group, starts making good decisions, expresses feelings openly and makes attempts to resolve problems and attain group effectiveness. At this stage, which is also known as individual differentiation stage or initial integration stage, the individuals’ roles get defined and the task and maintenance roles are assumed by group members. Group members also begin to express satisfaction and confidence about being members of the group.

  1. Performing

At the performing stage, the group has matured fully. The members are committed to the group goals, have complete trust in each other and allow honest disagreements to be freely expressed but make sure that the conflicts are satisfactorily resolved as and when they occur.

The group evaluates members’ performance so that the group members develop and grow. Feelings are expressed at this stage without fear, leadership roles are shared among the members and the members’ activities are highly coordinated. The task and maintenance roles are played very effectively. The task performance levels are high and member satisfaction, pride and commitment to the group are also high.

Both performance and member satisfaction are sustained indefinitely. This stage is also referred to as collaboration stage or final integration stage. Since reaching this stage requires a long period of time and member homogeneity in values and goals, very few work groups reach this stage.

  1. Adjourning

For permanent work groups, performing is the last stage in their development. However, for temporary committees, teams, task forces and similar groups that have a certain specific and limited task to perform, there is an adjourning stage. In this stage the group prepares for its disbandment.

High task performance is no longer the group’s top priority; rather attention is directed towards wrapping up group activities. Responses of group members vary at this stage. Some are very happy because of the group’s accomplishments whereas some may be depressed over the loss of friendships gained during the work group’s life.

Problems of this Model

  1. This model assumes that a group becomes effective as it progresses through the first four stages. But what makes a group effective is more complex than this model acknowledges.
  2. ‘Groups do not always proceed clearly from one stage to the next. Sometimes, in-fact, several stages go on simultaneously as when groups are storming and performing at the same time. Groups sometimes regress to previous stages.
  3. Another problem is that this model ignores the organizational context, while understanding work related behaviour. As much behaviour in organizations takes place within a strong organizational context, it would appear that the five stage development model may have limited applicability in our quest to understand work groups.

Studies have confirmed that groups do not develop in a universal sequence of stages. But the timing relating to when groups form and change the way they work is highly consistent. The punctuated equilibrium model is based on this concept.